“Writing About Nothing”
“I really do not like the frontispiece of my Sense & Sensibility. The lady looks dowdy and complacent.” I sat down the book and looked across to the dresser mirror which reflected back at me my own puzzled expression and dishevelled hair. “Really, Elinor was not so silly in either respect. I hold her in great esteem and sympathy.” I looked at my reflection again, a vague headache pulsing from temple to temple across my forehead. It had been a long day.
That restive yearning had been pursuing me– as I changed out laundry, tidied the kitched, searched all in a hustle for some misplaced paper of Mother’s– and it had finally caught me, as I sat cross-legged in companionable comfort with myself on the untidy bed in my quiet room. Reading Austen always makes me feel I can give words to that restlessness, but somehow one cannot really write for long about nothing. That is ever and always the problem standing between me and my fantasy of words piling up on words.
In thought I suddenly returned to a picture of the early afternoon, lounging in the shade, eating peaches at the end of an all-morning jaunt with a friend. “I remember, ” she had remarked, “at twenty, thinking, ‘I really ought to get married soon, because I’m starting to have so much fun, soon I won’t want to!'” This girl, dear friend and correspondent of many years, would make such an interesting character in a book. Indeed, then, my mind fell on another friend, a thoughtful young man with an intellectual and spiritual curiosity to match the bigness of his heart. He too could stand model for a character in a story.
Then my headache flared up again, and my mind let go of its creative castle-building.
“Problem is,” I mused despairingly, “I would want to transpose them to Regency England, and I don’t know enough of it to paint a true and satisfying picture.” Indeed.
And I lay down my achy head on the pillow.